Getting kids in touch with the great outdoors takes national center stage in April during Children and Nature Awareness Month. In the campaign against nature deficit disorder, a new sport is reconnecting kids with nature, and with their families, while also serving up a healthy dose of exercise: standup paddling, otherwise known as SUP.
Every parent will vouch that fun for kids is often a matter of "just add water.â€ Standup paddling is something the entire family can dive into together. Children as young as three or four can do it on their own and even younger kids can ride along on the front of their parent's board, truly sharing the experience.
Whether it be a cruise on the local river or lake while enjoying the sunshine and mountainside, or a paddle across a calm coral reef on the coastline, SUP offers a great vantage point from which to immerse in natural surroundings.
â€œIn many ways, the natural world seems to invite and facilitate parent-child connections,â€ says Martha Farrell Erickson, a developmental psychologist who serves on the board of Children and Nature Network.
Increasingly, SUP boards are being found at lake houses and rivers, far from the shores of Waikiki, Hawaii, where they originated.
Liam Wilmott, who works with Hawaii's C4 Waterman, leaders in the SUP field, offered these insights for families interested in getting into the sport:
â€œNowadays it's possible to purchase just one board and extendable paddle that the whole family can use, buying you time to learn the basics and work out if you really want to dive headlong into the sport,â€ says Wilmott, himself a father of three.
â€œFor my family, the inflatable boards - iSUPs - are the ideal board. They're durable, lighter than the molded boards, less prone to damage, and less likely to injure anybody with the rubber fins and soft exterior. At then end of the day, there's no storage or travel issues either, just pop the plug, roll them up and throw them in the trunk.
â€œWe've found it to be a great way to get our kids interacting with other kids, too. The minute they're playing around on the boards, guaranteed other kids want to have a try. It beats cyber friends and it's a great social and experiential opportunity for the growing number of kids who are home-schooling these days.â€
C4 is leading the inland migration of SUP, and to that end Wilmott thinks it won't be long before summer camps and youth programs incorporate standup paddling.
â€œHawaii's gift to the world is surfing and now, for the first time in history, you can take someone surfing and not even need a wave,â€ Wilmott explained. â€œWe're getting orders for the iSUPs from as far away as Australia and Europe. They just make sense; minimal equipment, minimal maintenance, minimal storage, and minimal cost compared to many other sports, but maximum fun and fulfillment.â€
Visit the C4 Waterman website for instructional DVDs for beginner through advanced levels and find out about free SUP demo days for kids and adults.
ABOUT C4 Waterman
C4 Waterman is a pioneer and leader of the evolution of the waterman lifestyle. With roots in Hawaii, C4 Waterman brings more than 100 years of research and development to their unmatched SUP designs and technology. They are now taking the coast to the mountains, paddling inland from specifically from the ultimate waves of Hawaii and Tahiti to the whitewater world of the Colorado River and calm, freshwater lakes and streams worldwide. The company's values are based on the four core principles of the waterman lifestyle: balance, endurance, strength and tradition. To see the complete line of C4 products including epoxy and inflatable boards, paddles, rash guards and accessories, please visit their website.